Sivananda Ashram…A Holistic Experience…The Beginning

IMG_20160209_090817_HDRTo begin with I would like to personally thank everyone in Sivananda Ashram, Kerala for allowing me to take videos of Yoga in the ashram as well as supporting my initiative. I am deeply obliged and eternally grateful.My deep loving kindness to Mr Nataraj, Director of Sivananda Ashram, Swami Janardhan and all the volunteers who selflessly work to make Sivananda Ashram a success. This was my third visit to the ashram and I am very grateful that I started my journey of Yoga from Sivananada Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala.

IMG_20160209_111008_HDRThere are number of Sivananada Ashram around the world with the biggest center in Canada. Swami Sivananada is the founding father of Sivananda Yoga and Dhanwanthari Ashram near Neyyar Dam in Kerala was established in 1978 by Swami Vishnu Devananada to spread the practice and dissemination of Yoga. There are other centers of Sivananda Ashram as established by Flying Swami Vishnu Devananada. The other prestigious and world Famous Sivananda Yoga School is Bihar School of Yoga in Bihar, India. Iyengar School is another Yoga school of thought.

Kerala is a picturesque state in Southern Part of India  also known as Gods Own Country. The state attracts millions of tourists from around the world and has world renowned beaches, backwaters, mountains and widely considered Ayurveda center of the world.

IMG_20160215_090518_HDRSwami Sivananda also addressed as Gurudev in ashram, was an imminent scholar, Yogi and one of the most prolific authors of more than 200 books on Yoga and Vedanta. Swami Sivananda was inspired by many Gurus including Venerable Sage Patanjali (The founder of Yoga and Ayurveda), Adi Shankracharya and Swami Vivekananda. Swami Sivananda synthesized Yoga into Karma, Bhakti, Raj and Gyan Yoga.

Venerable Sage Patanjali

Venerable Sage Patanjali is credited with compiling Yoga Sutra i.e 195 sutras also known as words of wisdom. There are many sources which claim different dates as to Patanjali’s origin but recent evidence places him around 2 to 3 CE i.e. about 1700 years, while other sources place him between 500 and 200 BC. Ven. Patanjali is also known for other significant sources to be author of works in Ayurveda (the most ancient Indian system of medicine). History suggests three different Patanjali who broadly contributed significantly in Sanskrit literature, Raj Yoga, Ancient Vedic Literature and Samkhya Philosophy but Indian tradition usually considers them all to be of one person. Its very sad that not much is written about him and much more scholarly study must be dedicated to this subject.

IMG_20160210_070152_HDRSivananda Yoga Philosophy

The ashram schedule includes one hour of Compulsory volunteering service for various chores for all the participants who come to Sivananada Ashram.This is a very good initiative on part of the ashram because it helps everyone to assimilate into the culture of ashram as well as helps to mitigate ego by involving in various daily chores. Raja and Gyan Yoga is combined into various asanas of Hata Yoga and meditation. Raja Yoga also means Dhyana Yoga and the person who practices Raja Yoga is known as Dhyana Yogi, Sanskrit name for meditation in parlance of today’s lingo it also means concentration or one pointedness.

Hey Dude What does Yogi mean ? Not sure what it means and can I also become a Yogi ? 

Swami Sivananda describes Yogi as a aspirant or student on the path of Yoga as well as a full blown developed adept in Yoga. He who is fully established in the highest Nirvikalpa Samadhi (thoughtless Super-conscious state) is a Yogi.

Everyone has the potential to become a Yogi if right effort, moral precepts and determination is applied.

IMG_20160212_173129_HDRSivananda Yoga

There are twelve basic asanas with more variations as you advance along the different yoga courses while Bhakti Yoga is the devotional aspect of Yoga. The ashram has a schedule which starts at 6 am in the morning with meditation and devotional chantings with Four hours of yoga classes including an hour of personal Asana correction everyday. The day also includes theoretical Vedanta classes usually of an hour. But the icing on the cake is the weekly Talent Show known as Sivananda Talent Show. More on this later. The ashram is surrounded by Sahyadri Hills, Agastya peak and lake which gives the ashram beatific landscape and breathtaking panorama. A Wildlife safari is near the ashram and shall be elaborated as a separate section. You can watch more exclusive videos on Youtube page

The ashram runs various courses which includes Yoga Vacation for people like myself who are not very regular or new to yoga. The ashram offers its flagship course Teachers Training Course for those who would like to specialize as trainers or want to delve a bit deeper both into theoretical and practical aspects of Yoga. Advanced Teachers Training course offers an in-depth training on yoga along with certification. The duration of both these courses is a month long and quite intensive. The path of self purification is never easy.

Sivananda Ashram in Neyyar Dam is managed by Mr Nataraj who is the Director of the place. Mr Nataraj is a highly qualified individual who has dedicated his life to serve humanity. I had the privilege to talk to him.

Please refer You tube for more videos

The ashram also offers Ayurveda treatment though Sivananda Institute of Health. Its flagship program is The Panchakarma Program, a complete rejuvenation treatment which varies usually 7 to 14 days. I have not done Panchakarma but there are many types of massages for relaxation. In the human body, the five basic elements Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth which manifest as Tridosha- Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They govern the physiological and biological functions of body and mind and Ayurveda treatments restore body proper balance and functioning. I spoke with Dr Vishnu who is heading the centre.

Sources: http://www.yogajournal.com/article/philosophy/who-was-patanjali/

Personal coverage coming up…To be continued…